Bolt-On Biodiesel to be Discussed at Biofuels Conf.

hydroboltonbiodiesel1Ethanol operators looking to get more out of their bottom lines might want to make sure they listen carefully when “bolt-on biodiesel” options are discussed at an upcoming conference on the financials of green fuels. Georgia-based Hydro Dynamics, Inc.‘s vice president of R&D, Doug Mancosky, will present his company’s technologies at the 10th annual Biofuels Financial Conference in Bloomington, Minn., this coming Wednesday through Friday, August 27th-29th to show how ethanol plants can diversify co-products and potentially increase profits.

The majority of ethanol plants already recover their corn oil and much of this ends up converted to biodiesel. By integrating a biodiesel plant directly into the ethanol plant a producer can realize many competitive advantages due to reduced transportation cost and shared infrastructure. HDI, along with its partners World Energy and Phibro Ethanol Performance Group, offer both transesterification reactor retrofits and complete biodiesel plants incorporating its cavitation based ShockWave Power Reactor (SPR).

SPR technology is already well established in the biodiesel industry with well over 500 million annual gallons of capacity sold using the SPR technology. The SPR technology has potential to offer ethanol producers a “bolt-on biodiesel” solution with significant initial capital savings and ongoing production cost efficiencies over conventional biodiesel plant technology.

More information is available on the Hydro Dynamics website.

RFS Headed to OMB for Review

epaThe Environmental Protection Agency has sent its final rule on 2014 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review in a last step before public release. Renewable fuels groups responded to the news today.

“We’re pleased to see the process moving forward and hope the final rule will show that this Administration is standing behind our national goals for clean, domestic fuels that strengthen our economy and national security,” said National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “The original EPA proposal and continued delays have severely disrupted the U.S. biodiesel industry this year. We can begin to reverse that damage with a meaningful increase in the biodiesel volume that is finalized as quickly as possible so that producers can ramp up production in a timely fashion.”

“While we have not seen the rule, we hold strong in our belief that EPA and OMB will fulfill President Obama’s commitment to biofuels as a means of greater energy independence, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and wider availability of cost-saving alternative fuels for American consumers,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “This decision is about more than targets and gallons, it is about a rationale that places highest importance on the long term strength of this country and not the bottom line of oil companies.”

“While OMB has up to 90 days to review this rule, what is most important is the content of the final rule,” added Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Ultimately, this final rule should promote the policy goals of the RFS and call for an increase in the production of renewable fuels, so we can continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs at home that cannot be outsourced and mitigate climate change, while we improve our environment.”

Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol, says his members are pleased with the progress. “Anything short of that turns the keys to the RFS over to the oil companies and puts cellulosic biofuel at risk,” said Jennings. “While all stakeholders have waited a long time for the final rule, and it could take another 30 days or more for interagency review, getting the rule done right is far more important than getting it done quickly.”

Since the rule is not public yet, there is no word on whether the volume requirements were changed from the initial proposal, which reduced the amount of ethanol and kept the biodiesel requirement the same. Senator John Thune (R-SD) expects some middle ground. “I think we’ll see an upward change,” he says. “I hope it’s a significant upward change and I hope that in ’15 they look at this in a different way.”

Thune still expects it will be later in the fall before a final rule is announced. EPA received over 340,000 comments on the proposal.

CEC Commissions Mass Community Solar Project

DCIM100MEDIAClean Energy Collective (CEC) has commissioned a community solar project in Massachusetts. The 1 MW Southeastern Massachusetts Community Solar Array in Rehoboth, Mass. is now open to all ratepayers in the NGRID territory. An event was held to mark the occasion and attendees heard from Jeffrey Ritter, Town Administrator for the Town of Rehoboth; Meg Lusardi, Acting Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources; Robert Terravecchia, CEO Weymouth Bank; and Paul Spencer, Founder and CEO of Clean Energy Collective.

“I am excited to congratulate NGRID and our Massachusetts team on bringing this project to fruition,” said Clean Energy Collective’s CEO, Paul Spencer. “Never before has large-scale, economic solar been accessible to so many, including renters and those with shaded properties. We’re proud to have been able to bring this solution to such a solar-progressive state as Massachusetts and look forward to delivering much more.”

According to CEC, their community solar model provides the opportunity for residential and business customers in a participating utility territory to benefit from solar through a shared utility-scale array without having to install a stand-alone system at their home or business. Community solar customers receive many of the same rebates and incentives as residential system owners, and credit for the power produced appears directly on an owners’ monthly utility bills. The array is sited and maintained to operate at peak efficiency, delivering clean, dependable power for decades.

Following the grand opening of the Rehoboth array is a string of new CEC community solar facilities coming online in Massachusetts, including the 997-kW Western Massachusetts Community Solar Array in Hadley, Mass. that will begin serving WMECo ratepayers in September.

Mobile County Public Schools Converts to Propane

The Mobile County Public Schools will be moving their students this fall with 30 propane autogas buses. The school district is supporting the community outreach campaign, “It Starts With Us” and their first step is the converted Blue Bird Propane Visions buses.

“The deployment of our propane autogas bus fleet is a perfect example of our school system’s initiative, It Starts With Us,” said Pat Mitchell, director of transportation for Mobile County Public Schools. “We are providing dependable and clean student transportation while saving taxpayers money so we can put it back in the classroom where it counts most.”

MCPSS Propane Autogas school busOfficials rolled out the new buses during the MCPSS Transportation Department on International Drive. “Propane is cheaper, cleaner and domestically produced,” said Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, who took a test ride on one of the new propane buses. “This is an environmental initiative I can get behind.”

“We are pleased to be the very first school system in Alabama to enhance transportation through the use of propane buses,” said Superintendent Martha Peek. “We have taken this step because we understand the advantages are increased fuel efficiency, economic and environmental.”

Each bus will displace about 40,000 gallons of diesel and emit 150,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime and the fuel costs nearly 50 percent less than per gallon than diesel according to Todd Mouw with ROUSH Cleantech.

Before choosing to fuel with propane autogas, the school district’s transportation department performed a comprehensive evaluation. This process included safety research, cost savings analysis, site visits to school systems that operate buses with propane autogas, and phone interviews with transportation directors.

“The schoolchildren and taxpayers of Mobile benefit from this important decision,” said Dale Wendell, Blue Bird’s chief commercial officer. “The adoption of Blue Bird Propane Vision buses further emphasizes Mobile County Public Schools’ forward-thinking leadership and commitment to reduce fuel and maintenance costs, support a domestically produced fuel, and provide cleaner air for the students and the community.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Court of His Majesty Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands, will attend the Grand Opening of POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels’ Project LIBERTY cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa on Wednesday, Sept. 3. The King will take part in the Grand Opening Ceremony to perform the formal opening activity, scheduled for 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m. and tour the plant. POET-DSM is a joint venture between the U.S.-based POET and the Netherlands-based DSM.
  • Neste Jacobs will be speaking at World Bio Markets Brasil 2014 in September. Ahead of this session, they have released a new free report “Biofuels, do they have a future?” The report covers: feedstock – start with finding a feasible feedstock; processing – which one is the right one for your product? and end product – Neste Oil’s renewable diesel NExBTL.
  • DuPont has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against SunEdison and its affiliate NVT LLC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. In its complaint, DuPont alleges that by sourcing and using photovoltaic cells and solar modules containing Samsung SDI Co., Ltd. front side metallization paste, SunEdison infringes DuPont’s patented tellurium paste technology. The complaint also identifies Neo Solar Power of Taiwan as the cell manufacturer and Flextronics as SunEdison’s contract manufacturer.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that Southern Research Institute has been selected for negotiation for an award of up to $5.9 million to advance production of high performance, low cost carbon fibers from biomass. The DOE award will fund development of a multi-step catalytic process for conversion of sugars from non-food biomass to acrylonitrile – a key precursor in the production of carbon fiber.

Prez: Don’t Undermine the RFS

Fuels America is asking President Obama to not undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) especially as it relates to the development of cellulosic ethanol. The coalition has placed a full page ad in the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette to tell the president how a proposal by his administration — if it is not fixed — will inadvertently cause investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol to shift to China and Brazil, undermining his effort to tackle climate change.

Fuels America Marthas Vineyard RFS adThe advertisement is an open letter focusing on the achievement of a major milestone in the president’s clean energy push as commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production becomes a reality this year as four large advanced biorefineries come online in 2014. While this could be just the beginning of a new American industry, private sector investment in the technology has paused due to a proposal by the EPA to fundamentally alter its approach to implementing the RFS. If the proposal isn’t changed before it is finalized, the letter warns, that investment will likely shift to China and Brazil, depriving the President of a key accomplishment.

The ad ends, “You have always been a strong champion of advanced biofuels and we know it is not your intent to undercut investment. It’s not too late to get the final rule right, so together we can make the United States the leader in producing the cleanest fuels in the world.

USGC Lists Top 10 Markets for US Ethanol

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has compiled its top 10 list of potential U.S. ethanol markets for the upcoming 2014/2015 market year, starting September 1.

usgc-ethanol-mkts1

While Brazil and Canada remain the top two, the Council is assessing Japan and Korea, Latin America and Southeast Asia as potential markets for U.S. ethanol exports. In the number three spot, USGC believes Japan has the potential to import 459 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in the year ahead, which would account for 11 percent of global demand for U.S. ethanol. Seventh placed Mexico has the potential to import 236 million gallons of U.S. ethanol and the Philippines at number nine could import 90 million gallons. Those three markets combined could to represent almost 20 percent of global demand for U.S. ethanol.

Rounding out the top ten, USGC puts the United Kingdom in fourth place with nearly 305 million gallons, India and Nigeria ahead of Mexico in 5th and 6th place with 250 and 240 million gallons respectively. Australia is ranked in 8th place with 220 million gallons and the Netherlands completes the top 10 with just over 86 million.

Colombia has Potential as Distillers Grains Market

COLOMBIAExports of U.S.corn to Colombia have soared this year, thanks to bigger crops, lower prices, and a favorable free trade agreement. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) also sees great potential for increasing exports of the ethanol co-product and livestock feed distillers grains (DDGS).

“We currently see about 90,000 metric tons of distillers grains moving into Colombia,” says USGC Director of Global Strategies Kurt Shultz. “We believe the market has the potential to easily exceed 700,000 tons, so there’s a lot of upward opportunity in Colombia for increased exports of distillers grains.”

Under the free trade agreement, there are no duties on distillers grains, so the Grains Council is actively working to bring technical knowledge on how to use the product to the region. “We had some feeding trials last year with the dairy industry which should good acceptance in the dairy sector,” said Shultz. Now they are looking at doing trials in swine and poultry as well.

This will likely be a topic of discussion at the 2014 Export Exchange coming up October 20-22 in Seattle. The event, co-sponsored by USGC and the Renewable Fuels Association, brings together buyers and sellers of distillers grains in an effort to expand established export markets and develop new markets. Discounted early registration for the event is available now through September 22.

Canola Genome Could Unlock Biodiesel Potential in Plant

PatersonResearchers have unlocked the genome for canola, and their discovery could mean a better plant for biodiesel. The University of Georgia says its scientists are part of the international team that published the genome of Brassica napus, better known as canola, in the journal Science.

“This genome sequence opens new doors to accelerating the improvement of canola,” said Andrew Paterson, Regents Professor, director of UGA’s Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory and co-corresponding author for the study. “We can use this knowledge to tailor the plant’s flowering time, make it more resistant to disease and improve a myriad of other traits that will make it more profitable for production in Georgia and across the country.”

The Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory played prominent roles in the sequencing both B. rapa and B. oleracea in 2011 and 2014, respectively.

“Understanding the genomes of B. rapa and B. oleracea was key to piecing together the canola genome,” Paterson said. “It’s like a genetic love triangle between the three species, with canola sometimes favoring genes from B. rapa or B. oleracea or sometimes both.”

Researchers believe the knowledge will eventually give them a more sustainable feedstock for biodiesel production.

Funding for Renewable Energy Programs

usda-omannThe Energy Title in the 2014 Farm Bill included re-authorization of the Renewable Energy for America Program – or REAP – with funding for renewable energy projects.

USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinator Ron Omann says an additional 50-million dollars of mandatory funding and up to 20-million dollars of discretionary funding have been dedicated to REAP for fiscal years 2014 through 2018, and funding for this year and next are being combined. “We’re going to be putting both ’14 and ’15 monies together which amounts to $100 million total for projects,” said Omann. That includes funding for both the Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program and the Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant Program.

Omann says they are working to simplify the application process. “Generally, we want to streamline it and make it less of a barrier to get into it,” he said, adding that they are implementing specific changes in the application process for projects of less than $80,000.

For those interested in applying for REAP funding, Omann says each state has its own template to help with the application process, but it helps to keep it small and simple.

Find out more about REAP here.

Iowans Want More Biodiesel and Candidates’ Support for It

IowaBiodieselBoardLogoAs one of the nation’s leaders in biodiesel production, it comes as no surprise that Iowans are supportive of the green fuel. But a new survey shows that support is practically through the roof! The Iowa Biodiesel Board says a new survey of registered voters shows that more than three-fourths of those asked not only support biodiesel, but they want the federal requirement for the fuel to increase. And nearly the same amount say a Congressional candidate’s support for the Renewable Fuel Standard was an important factor in their voting decisions.

The 77 percent figure came in response to the question, “Do you support or oppose expanding the national Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires blending some renewable fuels into the nation’s fuel supply, to increase biodiesel use in the United States?”

What’s more, 69 percent said a Congressional candidate’s position on the RFS was “very” or “somewhat” important.

There are four U.S. House seats and one U.S. Senate seat up for election in Iowa.

The survey comes as biodiesel producers are feeling a lot of market pressure because of the Obama Administration’s proposal to slash the RFS biodiesel target far below last year’s production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons. It also comes as candidates are making a big push for that November vote.

Right to Farm Laws Necessary

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What do you think of Right to Farm laws?”

This ZimmPoll struck very close to home for me. As a Missouri farmer, I did what I could to help educate everyone I knew on the truths about the Right to Farm amendment that took a narrow victory earlier this month. I was excited to see that the majority of pollers thought laws such as these were needed to ensure the right to farm for generations to come. I believe we will see more and more states taking action to protect farmers. In my opinion it is a necessity.

Here are the poll results:

  • Necessary to save farming – 47%
  • Not necessary – 16%
  • Too dangerous – 14%
  • Maybe some states- 5%
  • Should be federal law – 8%
  • no opinion – 10%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What’s the most important skill set for ag communications?

College campuses across the country are flooded with students heading to class. With that in mind, we want to know what you feel is the most important skill agriculture communications students need to have mastered when they enter the workforce. Is it still the traditional writing/editing skills or more current social media/blogging skills that employees are seeking?

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFClean Energy Collective (CEC), a community-owned solar developer, has been named to the 2014 Inc. 500/5000 list, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Ranked number 194 overall, and 11th within the Energy segment, CEC was recognized for its innovative community-owned solar solution being adopted by utilities and communities across the country. Between 2010 and 2013 CEC’s revenue grew 2,217 percent.
  • CBD Energy Limited has, through its Australian Energy Efficiency subsidiary, Parmac, been awarded installation and maintenance contracts in Melbourne, Australia. The total estimated value of the contracts is approximately US$1.7 million. The projects are expected to be commissioned in September and to be completed in December, 2014. As part of the agreements, Parmac will also earn ongoing operations and maintenance fees.
  • Tanzanian Minister of Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, disclosed that the Tanzania Geothermal Development Company kick started operations last month as a subsidiary of the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO). The company’s goal is to start generating up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from geothermal energy within two years.
  • Canadian Solar Inc. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., has completed the sale of Good Light, a 10 MW AC solar power plant located in the town of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada, valued at over C$66.0 million ($60.3 million) to a BluEarth Renewables Inc. subsidiary. This is the second of four planned solar projects being acquired by BluEarth from Canadian Solar, totalling 38.5 MW AC.

Multi-tasking Could be Key for Algae-to-Diesel Ops

algaesystemsA company from Nevada thinks it has found a way to make a profit turning algae into renewable diesel: multi-tasking. This article from the New York Times says Algae Systems, which has a pilot plant in Alabama, believes it will be able to turn a profit by doing several other things while turning the algae oil into a usable fuel, namely, making clean water from municipal sewage, using the carbon-heavy residue as fertilizer and generating valuable credits for advanced biofuels.

“We think it is a really elegant solution,” said Matt Atwood, the chief executive. At its heart is a “hydrothermal liquefaction” system that heats the algae and other solids in the sewage to more than 550 degrees Fahrenheit, at 3,000 pounds per square inch, turning out a liquid that resembles crude oil from a well.

The company sent the liquid to Auburn University, where scientists added hydrogen (a common step in oil refining) to produce diesel fuel. An independent laboratory, Intertek, confirmed that the diesel fuel met industry specifications. The thermal processing has caught the attention of independent scientists. The Department of Energy recently awarded a $4 million grant to a partnership led by SRI International for further work on Algae Systems’ hydrothermal processing system.

Engineers hope the system could dispose of a variety of unwanted or hazardous materials. It also destroys pathogens in sewage.

Developers of the high-temperature processing technology say this method is much less energy intensive than more commonly used practices that dried out the algae and broke down the cell walls to separate the oil from the microbes.

PERC Updates Brand, Logo

Propane logoThe Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has updated its brand identity for propane: PROPANE Clean American Energy. In addition, they have revealed a new logo. According to PERC President and CEO Roy Willis, the logo highlights propane as an American-made alternative fuel at a time when U.S. propane production from natural gas liquids is at record levels. He also said the change puts a spotlight on recent investments by the propane industry in new technologies.

“We hope PROPANE Clean American Energy will increase consideration of propane as a clean, affordable, and American-made alternative to conventional fuels among fleets, commercial landscapers, contractors, producers, and homeowners,” said Willis. “Increasing domestic demand for propane in the U.S. will ultimately lead to cleaner air and increased use of our nation’s own energy resources, rather than relying on foreign oil.”

The new logo and tagline will be used in all PERC-produced materials and will be made available free of charge to propane providers and OEM partners. The new logo will also replace the previous mark used by thousands of propane retailers nationwide on signs, delivery vehicles, equipment, websites, and literature. In addition, the new logo will be featured in the organization’s new multimedia safety campaign to encourage agribusiness operators and residential propane heating customers to fill up in advance of the winter season.

Willis added, “America makes more than enough propane to meet U.S. demand. As PERC rolls out this important safety campaign and new branding identity, the propane industry is prepared to meet the needs of a changing energy economy.”